Increasing pressure on Joe Biden to take immediate action to restore the US refugee resettlement program, after a leading human rights group said Biden is are on track to bring the fewest refugees this year of any American president in history.
The International Rescue Commission (IRC) said in a recent report that only 2,050 refugees had been resettled in the US since mid-fiscal 2021, despite Biden’s stated goal of bringing 62,500 people. asylum at the end of September and as many as 125,000 in 2022.
“If the President does not take immediate action to implement his revised refugee policy, an estimated 5,000 refugees will be admitted this fiscal year … this would be a low number. of any US president in history, “the group said to speak.
Refugee supporters have applauded Biden’s refugee relocation plan, saying it marks a significant departure from the policies of his predecessor Donald Trump, who has narrowed spending resettlement relocation, overall lowering. limit refugee admissions to historic lows, and impose a travel ban on people from a number of countries, including some with a majority Muslim majority.
White House Officials To speak Biden remains committed to his proposal and on April 9, the administration filed Congressional funding requests for discretionary funding include $ 4.3 billion for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to rebuild the system and support resettlement for 125,000 refugees next year.
But rights groups say the refugees and their families are still in limbo as Biden has yet to sign the presidential decision to allow the resettlement process to resume.
“It’s a signature we need to separate everything,” said Erol Kekic, director of the immigration and refugee program at Church World Service, one of nine national refugee resettlement agencies in the US. both of these people from safety.
“It’s really not clear why – after candidate Biden made all those promises, after President Biden signed executive orders and after they held legal requests with Congress – they haven’t signed the presidential decision yet, ”Kekic told Al Jazeera.
The refugee resettlement system in the US was established under the Refugee Act of 1980.
Under the statute, the US government must annually report to Congress on its refugee resettlement plans and engage in discussions with US lawmakers. The president will then review that response and sign an order called a presidential decision to take effect, explains JC Hendrickson, senior director of refugee and refugee policy at the IRC.
In early February, Biden announced plans to increase the number of refugees to 125,000 during the first full fiscal year of his administration – October 1, 2021, to the end of September 2022 – and cancel Trump’s policies ” Refugee resettlement limits and requires applicants excessive testing “.
That same month, Biden sent the necessary report to Congress detailing fix target of 62,500 refugees reception for fiscal year 2021, which ends September 30. The number “is evidenced by serious humanitarian concerns and for the good of the nation”, the authorities said, After a record low only 11,814 refugees were resettled in the previous fiscal year.
Hendrickson told Al Jazeera: “The process has been so strongly initiated… it is confusing then that there is a delay at this stage in the process, but the longer the delay, the more it becomes. more worrying.
Not signing orders sends a bad signal to countries worldwide at a time when refugee resettlement is declining, Hendrickson said. “It will be very difficult to take the lead when we take in so few refugees,” he said.
Of the approximately 1.4 million refugees in need of resettlement in 2019, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) to speak just under 64,000 – about 4.5% – have been resettled in 29 countries with the agency’s help.
In one report in June of last year, the UNHCR predicted that more than 1.44 million refugees would need relocation by 2021 – a slight increase from the previous year – with nearly half (617,000 people) coming from Africa.
Until Biden signed the president’s decision, the United States continued to operate under the Trump administration’s resettlement system, which Hendrickson argues most of the black and brown refugees do harm.
“The Trump administration has created these arbitrary, discriminatory categories… Africa has been the region with the highest resettlement demand in the world in the past few years and has only 682 refugees from Africa was admitted to the US in the fiscal year. [year 2021], “I said.
“All we need is the president’s stroke to fix this, and without that, we are operating under Trump’s discriminatory admissions policy.”
It is also important to ensure that America’s refugee resettlement agencies, after years of restrictions under Trump, can strengthen their capacity to respond to the needs of refugees if and when to decide. Biden’s decision takes effect.
Kekic says the network of faith-based groups the Church World Service is working with is ready to resume, but needs to coordinate with the US State Department, which administers the resettlement program.
Knowing which groups of refugees will be eligible for resettlement, he explained, is crucial to such planning, as it will help the agencies decide where to put those refugees. United States – based on family needs, existing community makeup, language ability, and other factors.
“How quickly people can be returned to the plane now is another question,” added Kekic.
‘Full of anxiety’
Meanwhile, overseas refugees and their relatives in the US are in limbo, says Tsehaye Teferra, Executive Director of the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), a resettlement agency. Said another US country that specializes in helping refugees from all over the world.
Teferra said the organization received calls almost every day from families asking about the delay in reuniting with their loved ones. He told Al Jazeera, the psychological burden of not knowing – and when – someone is coming are subject to taxes on families, as well as company employees.
“We are talking [about] Families are separated, we are talking about displaced people… Some of these have been informed that they will be resettled in the United States. Some have travel arrangements. They gave their belongings to other refugees, ”he said.
Teferra said nine national resettlement agencies expected about 715 refugees to arrive in the US last month, but because the president’s statement was not signed, their flights had to be canceled.
“For a refugee who waited so many months,” he said, “another day, another month, it’s an anxious delay.”